Kaitlin Armstrong, Texas love triangle murder suspect, pleads not guilty
AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin woman accused of murdering cyclist Moriah "Mo" Wilson on May 11 has made her first court appearance. Kaitlin Armstrong was arrested in Costa Rica in June after more than 40 days on the run.
Armstrong faces a first-degree murder charge and in her arraignment Wednesday, Armstrong pled not guilty.
In addition to that, U.S. Marshals had obtained a warrant for her arrest on a charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution after she fled Texas in May, traveling to New York, New Jersey and then Costa Rica, where police arrested her at a hostel on Santa Teresa Beach in Provinica de Puntarenas on June 29.
A federal judge recently dismissed that charge against Armstrong but it's just a formality, and she could face the charge again in the future if prosecutors deem it necessary.
Her attorneys addressed the press outside the courtroom following the arraignment. Watch their statement below:
Armstrong's attorneys have also filed a motion for a speedy trial. The docket call is set for October 19 and a jury trial is expected to take place the following week.
An attorney representing the state says that Travis County has over 100 murder cases backlogged due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I don't know what kind of privilege this particular defendant has to cut in front all of these people who have been waiting for trial," he said.
The attorney requested Armstrong waive ineffective assistance of counsel claims if they are proceeding with the October trial, saying "I know [Armstrong's legal team] haven't seen all the evidence because we don't have all the evidence to give to them."
How was Kaitlin Armstrong found?
Officials say while 34-year-old Armstrong was on the run, she cut her hair shoulder-length and dyed it dark brown, as well as wore a bandage on her nose claiming she had a surfboarding accident.
Recently, members of the U.S. Marshals-led Lone Star Fugitive Task Force and Homeland Security Investigations discovered that Armstrong, fraudulently using another individual's passport, had boarded United Airlines Flight 1222 from Newark International Airport at 5:09 p.m. EST on May 18 and arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica, at 8:27 p.m. EST.
Armstrong was last known to have been dropped off at the New Jersey airport after she left the Austin airport on May 14.
Investigators determined Armstrong was at the Austin International Bergstrom Airport on May 14 at approximately 12:30 p.m. She boarded Flight #WN2262 from ABIA to Houston Hobby Airport and then boarded a connecting Southwest Airlines Flight #WN30 to New York LaGuardia Airport.
The U.S. Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force had also located Armstrong’s black Jeep Grand Cherokee last week and learned that Armstrong sold the vehicle May 13 to a CarMax dealership in south Austin for $12,200. Armstrong was provided a check from the dealership a day after being questioned by Austin authorities.
Armstrong's black Jeep Grand Cherokee is believed to be the same one that was seen on a security camera driving by the East Austin home Wilson was staying in the night she was murdered.
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Who is Kaitlin Armstrong?
Armstrong is the prime suspect in the death of 25-year-old cycling star Anna Moriah "Mo" Wilson who was found shot dead at a friend’s apartment in East Austin on Maple Avenue near East 7th Street on May 11.
Wilson, a rising cyclist star, had flown from Colorado to Texas earlier that week in preparation for the Gravel Locos race in Hico, where she was a favorite to win. A few weeks earlier, she won the Belgian Waffle Ride in California.
Law enforcement had not been able to locate Armstrong since police briefly detained and mistakenly released Armstrong on an unrelated charge. Armstrong had been arrested for a misdemeanor warrant out of Travis County from 2018.
"Armstrong was questioned about her vehicle being in the area as pictured on the Ring camera. However, she would not confirm or deny being in the area of the murder and quickly terminated the interview," APD Homicide Det. Richard Spitler said in a press conference on May 25.
Spitler went on to say that "(Armstrong) was then mistakenly released from custody on the misdemeanor warrant" because her date of birth in the department’s report management system did not match the date of birth on the warrant.
Further investigation revealed Armstrong had dated star cyclist Colin Strickland for a few years. Last year, Strickland was romantically involved with Wilson while Strickland and Armstrong were on a brief break.
Investigators believe Wilson was shot and killed over a love triangle since Wilson and Strickland went out the day of the murder and Armstrong’s car was seen driving around where Wilson was killed. Strickland admitted to having "a brief romantic relationship" with Wilson while she was visiting in 2021.
"She returned to her home in California and about a month later, Kaitlin Armstrong and I reconciled and resumed our relationship," Strickland said. "Since then I often saw Mo at cycling events, and always in public settings," his statement further adds. "After our brief relationship in October 2021, we were not in a romantic relationship, only a platonic and professional one."
According to an affidavit, Strickland told investigators that he and Wilson had gone swimming at Deep Eddy Pool, then ate at Pool Burger before he dropped her off at her friend’s house around 8:30 p.m. the night of her death.
Strickland reportedly told police that he had lied to Armstrong about his whereabouts.
An anonymous tipster reportedly told investigators that when Armstrong found out the pair was together, she told the person she wanted to kill Wilson, and also said she had acquired a gun.
FOX News contributed to this report.